Heat-related illnesses can result in serious injury or even death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, individuals who work outdoors in hot climates have an elevated risk of dangerous heat exposure symptoms. People who are overweight, have chronic medical conditions, are older than 65 or take certain medications are also more susceptible to heat illness according to the National Safety Council.
Take these precautionary measures if your job requires you to spend long hours in the sun.
Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign that your body is already dehydrated. Try to drink about 4 cups of water each hour you spend outdoors, or 1 cup every 15 minutes.
Shield the skin
When working outdoors, stick to light-colored, lightweight fabrics. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield the face from the sun. Wear sunscreen on any exposed skin and reapply at least every 2 hours.
Know the symptoms
Heat exhaustion results in excessive sweating, thirst, weakness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, pale or clammy skin, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, muscle cramping and headache. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. This life-threatening illness causes significantly body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, erratic behavior, unresponsiveness, seizures, fainting, rapid breathing, confusion, and flushed, hot, dry skin. Call 911 to seek emergency medical attention right away if you or a coworker suffers any of these symptoms while on the job.
When you overheat at work, go to an air-conditioned or shady location right away. Cool your skin with wet towels and drink cold water. Even if you do not experience the symptoms of heat illness, take frequent breaks in hot weather to prevent overexertion.
You may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you experience debilitating illness or injury after heat exposure at work. In Minnesota, you must report this type of injury to your employer within 180 days to qualify for benefits that cover medical care and other associated costs.